Review of The Weather's Bet

The Weather’s Bet
by Stephen Cowan; illus. by Ed Young
Primary    Philomel    32 pp.    g
3/20    978-0-525-51382-7    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-525-51383-4    $10.99

“One day a shepherd was fast asleep / upon a hill with her flock of sheep.” The three powers who rule the Earth — Rain, Wind, and Sun — bet on which of them can force the shepherd to remove her cap. They begin their contest of strength. Wind blows “angry gusts of air” and Rain tries “to soak, / with pounding water, / her cap and cloak,” but their efforts are in vain. Then Sun takes its turn and begins to shine. The shepherd “smiled and began to sweat, and Wind and Rain lost the bet” as she doffs her cap — showing readers that kindness and gentleness prevail. In this retelling of Aesop’s fable “The Wind and the Sun,” Caldecott Medalist Young uses mixed-texture collages composed of torn magazine paper and (according to the copyright page) photographs by nature photographer John Hudak. Full-bleed double-page spreads invite readers to linger on the panoramic scenes and dive deeply into the details of the illustrations. The language is lyrical, full of rhythm and rhyme, and the text is beautifully integrated into the illustrations (e.g., on the page where Wind “howled and howled,” words are situated on the page as if they are being blown by a gust of air). The three powers visually present themselves in the shapes of their Chinese characters — a hidden surprise that will delight readers in the know. A primer on the symbols used in the story is appended.

From the May/June 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Weileen Wang
You-Ling (Weileen) Wang loves to write, read, and illustrate. She attended Vanderbilt University, where she studied child development and fell in love with children's literature. She holds a master's degree in arts in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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